At the end of "Dem Bones, Samshee had determined where the shipment of stolen Dragon Bone sticks were going to be delivered. Tarl is taking care of the newborn twins which have yet to be named. Samshee is undercover in the Lands of Iuz,
trying to find the source of the tainted weapons. The rest of us leave for the delivery point, which is up the Retensa River, at the boundary of the Horned Society. This area was originally controlled by a lawful evil society that was rumored to worship devils. However, it was overrun by the forces of Iuz in the last war. With Iuz’ defeat, the area seems to be slowly, cautiously starting to recover.
At the delivery point, we find a small dock, at which is moored the pirate ship that Samshee identified to us. It had a manifest that listed the Dragon Bone sticks. Jet (invisible, on an Aldeberon’s Disk, in lizard form) investigates the ship hold. She finds 12 boxes that smell of the Dragon Bone. The pirates cover 8 of the 12 boxes with pitch to make them water proof and presumably odor-proof. The 8 pitched boxes are unloaded, and transferred to some mercs/soldiers guarding a wagon convoy. Anatoli investigates the convoy… 24 well-trained mercs, lead by a captain, Agamemnon. The chuck wagon has a symbol — a painted bear with silver claws.
A young, clean cut guy in new starting adventurer gear and a backpack oversees paying off the pirates and goes off to the convoy. They call him Davros.
Jet asks the rats in the pirate ship to keep an eye of the four chests left behind. She promises to check back with them regularly. She leaves an Aldeberon Coin in a rat hole to make sure that the ship is easily tracked.
Anatoli stays with the chuck wagon. The rest of us follow behind by about an hour. When they set up camp that night, an armorer sets up a table and starts repairing chain mail using a dry welding process. Anatoli casts True Sight. The armorer is an ogre magi in human form. Agamemnon is a 7th level fighter. The armorer is welding the rings together using Dragon Bone ore. Davros is a 9th level mage, without any apparent spell books or magic items, except for a scroll.
Davros tells Agamemnon that the count of the boxes is off. However, the Mistress will handle it.
Jet stakes out the pirate ship in rat form. Four days later, a short woman (approximately 5’5 height") holding a staff and floating in midair attacks the boat. Three lightning bolts handle the main mast, the pirate captain, and part of
the upper deck. Arrows from the crew apparently bounce off. She floats down and looks into the hole in the deck. She targets the four boxes and cast another lightning bolt. It apparently ignites the boxes and the ship is totally destroyed. Jet lays in the water, playing dead along with all the other dead things floating there. The woman flies straight up, chants, and disappears. Jet rejoins the rest of the party.
We follow the wagons to Molag. It is an extremely orderly but repressive society. Maximus has done some scouting in the conquered lands of Iuz since the war and he tells us how to behave. We go in disguised as normal humans in the area. Agamemnon and Davros present papers to some guards and split up. We follow Agamemnon and the wagon of Dragon
Bone. He goes to a light manufacturing area of the city, and stops at a building with an old sign, “Cobblers”. He delivers the boxes to six guards out front. Jet (in dog form) notices that all six guards have the same smell, as if they were the same person. When the door opens, Jet can smell Dragon Bone.
We backtrack to where Davros split off and Jet scent tracks Davros to City Hall, and then to the Mayor’s Office. Jet shape changes to a mouse and makes her way into the office. Davros is reporting to the Mistress, asking for guidance. She tells him to use less greedy humans next time. She says they now have enough of the materials. Apparently Iuz Bane did them a favor by shutting down the pipeline. They will have to seek a new power source, just as New Critwall will have to do.
We decide to leave Molag alone, and head for the World Serpent’s Inn. We walk into a dramatically re-organized Inn, a huge circular room with high beams, reminiscent of Valhalla. There is a circular bar in the center. A lot of adventurers are sitting around. Samshee is there with See-more (Boccob), eating fries and gravy. Some Kelmane show up and charge Samshee. She starts running, and Anatoli casts a Prismatic Wall between Samshee and the kelmane. Jet moves and casts Anti-Animal Shell to be between the khelmane and Samshee. About 4 kelmane go through the wall and disappear. the others managed to stop in time and try to go around. but they cannot penetrate the Anti-animal Shell. The new bartender, a tall woman with white hair, tells the kelmane, “Not in my bar.” One kelmane objects. She blows a puff of air and that kelmane disappears. Another kelmane objects, and the bartender puffs another one away. The remaining kelmane meekly back away and leave.
The bartender comes over to us. She is Strega, the Valkyrie that Maxximus killed and Aldeberon raised back with a potion. She tells us that Struva was dying because she lost her heart. Strega came to the bar and asked how she could save Struva. A woman with a cruel face told her she had to take on a task she would not name. Strega agreed. She started knowing things about the bar, and her hair turned white. Struva was saved, and became a full Valkyrie, but does not know what
Strega says there are new rules. Everyone can see invisible, astral, out of phase and ethereal. No fighting is allowed. Spell casting is difficult. Spells to do harm do not work. Healing is improved. Entry to the Inn is determined by the god who grants it.
Struva comes in. She does not recognize Strega. She was told that Strega made a great sacrifice for her, but she knows nothing more. Struva says she has to go to work now, but she will find Maximus later. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
Samshee reports that people’s lives are better now in the Lands of Iuz. Farmers are getting loans and work crews (enslaved kobolds, apparently) but are not allows to leave their farms. They are also getting potions to assist in reclaiming previously unfarmable land. It is unclear if the land was unfarmable due to mundane means such as salt or magical means such as curses. She also reports that Golgotha Mak (Sym’s orcish father) and Turosh Mak (Sym’s orcish half brother) are busy putting together the Orc Empire in the Po Marj. They apparently have the assistance of a third half orc/ half gnoll, who appears to be a cleric wearing the perverted holy symbol of Sym.
We head back to New Critwall to persuade the Mayor to stop using Dragon Bone. Maxximus and Aldeberon paint a vivid picture of the city being eradicated by berserker dragons and he agrees. Next we head to the Bottoms. Jet lends her Aboleth Janitor Harness to Aldeberon’s Simulacrum, and he spends the next week casting “Purify” on everything and everyone to get rid of the stench of burned Dragon Bone.
Jet asks Stonedar about moving the Dragon Bone material back to the plane from which it came. He gives it some thought and tells her that would need the permission/assistance/intervention of the Prince of Elemental Earth. She asks Stonedar to look into that.
We go talk to the dwarf (Waldorf) in charge of engineering to find out how the city was getting power before they started using Dragon Bone It seems there is a magma elemental in a chamber below the city. Every six months, Beodar would create some powder. He would summon an earth elemental to knead some clay, a water elemental to make a slurry, a fire elemental to bake the slurry, and an air elemental to winnow the dust. Jet thinks that creating a substitute will require a mage and a priest. Jet agrees to help Dharma with the twins to give Tarl a break so he can help with the investigation. Tarl eagerly agrees.
First we try whether mundane materials will work, such as powered diamond. That works but flares too hot, too quickly. Next we try a mixture of diamond dust and powdered granite, using the mundane equivalent of Beodar’s process – diamond dust and powdered granite, mixed with rainwater, heated till dry, ground down, and sifted using an air based winnowing process. The resulting mixture works, but the magma elemental shows a pattern of addiction, needing ever greater quantities to get the same effect, and having violent withdrawal when more was not forthcoming.
Next we try the same process with materials retrieved from the appropriate elemental planes by Jet’s elementals. Just a tiny amount of that has an enormous result. Finally we dial it down so that we use just a touch of elemental materials with a whole bunch of mundane materials. It works a little better than Beodar’s original formulation.
Stonedar finally returns. He has secured the agreement/intervention of the Prince of Elemental Earth. The Dragon Bone has been moved to the plane of Earth and a very dense coal has been put in its place.
Maxximus tracks down the Tiger Nomads to try to replace his cheetah fetish. He brings Goodberry Tarts to the tribe and assists in the hunt. He kills two antelope at a great distance. One night, he meets a huge mountain lion (The great cat spirit, perhaps?). She refers to him as a kitten and tells him to thrive. If he needs a rock, then he should go find a rock.
Back in camp, the matriarch of the Tiger Nomads gives him a wooden face of a mountain lion.